Wilma’s Exit

It’s no surprise that “Fox 8 News” anchor Wilma Smith would retire sometime soon…it’s just not been known when.

That changed on Monday, when the long-time WJW/8 anchor (with a total time in Cleveland TV news of some 35 years) announced to viewers that she was calling it a career at the end of May.

A lengthy, steady career it’s been for the former Wilma Pokorny.

Wilma is one of the last remaining members of a class that dominated the local TV landscape in Cleveland for decades.

She spent a lot of her nearly 20 years at WJW, now Local TV’s Fox affiliate – after a decade-and-a-half plus run at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 – with co-anchor Tim Taylor, another member of that group.

Since 2005, she’s been co-anchoring the 6 PM edition of “Fox 8 News”…first with Taylor, then with current partner Lou Maglio.

But many of us remember her many years at “TV5 Eyewitness News” with another bedrock of local TV news, Ted Henry.

Both Taylor and Henry are retired, and Wilma Smith now joins that illustrious list.

The “Fox 8 News” website article on her departure has a quote or two:

“It’s a lovely gift to be able to leave on your own terms,” says Wilma. “You may not see me in your living room anymore, but I hope to see you out and about in the community. It’s been a wonderful career and my heart will always be with you.”

WJW president/general manager Greg Easterly tells the Plain Dealer’s Mark Dawidziak that it’s “a bittersweet moment”, and one the station knew was coming:

“She’s been talking to us about this for a while. This is the transition moment for her career and her life, and this about where she wants her life to be. She loves the viewers and she loves her co-workers, but she loves her husband more, which is understandable.”

Despite the presence of some significant local anchors with deep roots in the market – Romona Robinson at Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19’s “19 Action News” comes to mind – it’s hard not to go to the “the end of the big anchor” card.

And over at 13th and Lakeside, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has made a big anchor bet on former CBS anchor Russ Mitchell and co-anchor Kris Pickel, not to mention the employment of another of the Big 80s anchor class – 7 PM co-anchor Robin Swoboda.

For that matter, names like “Fox 8 News”‘ own Bill Martin could make their own case for anchor importance.

But one by one, the anchor class Northeast Ohio grew up with, and later grew old with, is dwindling.

Do we start the Dick Goddard Retirement Watch yet? Does “NewsChannel 5” noon anchor Leon Bibb fit in this conversation?

Our sincere best wishes to Wilma Smith as she moves on from the TV news game in a couple of months and change…

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2 Responses to Wilma’s Exit

  1. Chuck Matthews says:

    Maybe Denise Dufala goes home to WJW??

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